If You Love the Commissary, Say So


There’s been a lot of talk recently about whether or not we actually need commissaries. After all, for most of us the commissary system falls squarely in the “nice to have” category. Unless you’re stationed overseas or jealously watching every dime you spend, the commissary is something you could live without if you had to.

But that doesn’t mean you want to. Just yesterday I drove across town to stock up on ketchup at our own location. I love the commissary.

So that’s what I told the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) when I spent a few minutes this morning taking their  online survey.

Officials say they will use the results of this survey to understand how they’re doing.

“Why this new online survey? Simple, like any organization engaged in customer service, we want to know from our authorized patrons how we’re doing in delivering their commissary benefit. We’ll take their responses, analyze them and use them to help improve their shopping experience,” said Kevin Robinson, a DeCA spokesman, told me.

But I wonder how much the recent kerfuffle over shutting or outsourcing the commissary had on the decision to run this survey — the first one they’ve done online since 2007. An entire section of the survey is devoted to gauging how much shoppers value the benefit.

This survey is different from the annual Commissary Customer Service Survey, which is traditionally available in paper form and done in stores.

This year the CCSS will be conducted on iPads instead of using paper everywhere except for 21 OCONUS locations.. You’ll be able to take that survey in store in July, though specific dates have not be announced.

Take a few minutes to fill out this survey and get your opinion out there. Love it or hate it, this is your way to tell DeCA’s leadership just what you think.

Find the survey here!

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on CNN.com, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.

11 Comments on "If You Love the Commissary, Say So"

  1. The commissary is a perk we have, and it was based originally on the fact that our soldiers did not receive sufficient pay…..or this is what I believe. Anyway, try going to the local grocery and buying the same amount of groceries that you buy in the commissary. There is a huge difference, even with the surcharge. I've always loved going to the commissary. The items always seem to be what you are looking for and in the right weight or amount. I would truly miss the commissary should we lose this privilege. I might add that those of the civilian communities wish they had the right to go there.

  2. One can always find individual loss leaders and other exceptions regardless if it's the commissary or any other grocery store but on average considering the total bill I haven't found a better deal in decades. One has to shop smart like any place, watch sales, know the price per item, ounce, etc. for comparison but again, in total it can't be beat. Commissary beef is not always competitive with stores like COSTCO or SAMS but those are extra trips, gas, wear & tear. Know what you need, make a list, use coupons, shop smart and the savings are very good. We make two trips a month with occassional short trips to the local SAMS down the block for milk and eggs to avoid wasting gas on special trips for a couple of items but if the commissary went away our grocery budget would go up significantly. As for the real question, is it necessary? In the strictest sense no as most have many other options often closer than the commissary. The days of bases in remote locations are gone for the most part with a few exceptions. If you live on MCB Twenty Nine Palms it would be difficult to shop outside the base due to distance but for bases in metro areas like many are it is not necessary stricly from an availability standpoint. The issue for most active and retired is cost and after 40 years of comparing off base and commissary total costs the verdict is that the commissary is cheaper.

  3. It all depends on what groceries i'm buying. Some things are cheaper at WalMart, some things are cheaper at the commissary. As far as beef goes, i get it at COSTCO, just better quality, thicker cuts. .

    All three are fairly close by so gas isn't much of an issue.

    To be honest if commissaries closed down, it wouldn't really kill my budget.

  4. Retired / Disabled | June 17, 2013 at 9:25 am |

    Why do the commissary on ft. Gordon Ga. raise there prices on food, fruit's & vegetable's on the first of the month & the fifteenth of the month ? It's ridicules

  5. I love the commissary!! It's how we can eat really well on a budget. Plus it's ALWAYS an experience when you go there! :P

  6. Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, does not have a Sam's, Costco, etc. There's the commy, Walmart, and an uber expensive chain grocery store.

    We depend on the commissary for staples, meat, snacks, pet food, etc. I cannot get the amount and quality of food anywhere else.

    Plus, it provides jobs for the Military community.

    Get rid of the PX. Their items and goods are all too expensive.

  7. I have been visiting commissaries off an on for over 24 years, however it wasn't until I PCS'ed to the DC area that I have truly come to realize the financial benefit commissaries provide. Product by product comparison against local grocery stores delivers a VERY significant financial difference. In addition, I use every cost cutting measure I can for example buying in bulk, using on-line and sunday paper coupons, and balancing the want vs. need items. It's not that I want to do this, but that I have to do this. Local stores charge sales tax on non-staple items and the county has a lesser tax on everything else. I simply cannot foresee how to raise a young family; in this area; on my salary; and affording only the basics of household items. It is very evident to me and my wallet that the commissary system provides a fantastic benefit to the military service member.

  8. The commissary is the only place I shop for groceries, except for small items that I need immediately. It relieves a burden on vets and active duty members because shopping at the commissaries helps our grocery money go further. Shutting down our commissaries make no sense. Why target this much needed benefit?

  9. crystal hamilton | February 24, 2014 at 6:19 pm |

    I love going to the commissary, I like the ethnic products I get. If I didn't have the commissary I would stop buying the pricier manurfacting products! It gives me a chance to be around the comfort that the military environment provides. Military people are the few people that really understand me. A retired (She-bee),Seabee, Can Do! Crystal Hamilton

  10. Lucille Moreau | February 25, 2014 at 6:44 pm |

    My husband is retired and we have been shopping in the commissary's since he retired. We shop usually once a month and it is a big savings for us. Being both retired from work, it is a Hugh savings for us. Hopefully the prices won't go crazy and the-commissary's won't close. Retired E6 Sargent Moreau, Arundel, ME. We shop at the Hanscom Air Force Base on the way to our evening out dancing in that area.

  11. This year I turn 64 and my entire life has been connected to a commissary as I was born a Navy Brat and then retired from the Army. I ETS'd in '75 and went into the Reserves while attending school. My wife and I travelled 89 miles to shop at the nearest commissary because we couldn't afford the prices in the local stores and gas was 65 cents a gallon. If not for the commissary, we never would have stretch our meager funds to feed a family of four. After returning to the military and retiring, I now live again in an area where the nearest commissary is 70 miles away so we make it a day trip when we shop at the commissary, the savings are worth it. With the pending changes, it will no longer be a savings with gas prices and raised prices in the commissary plus the possible increase in the surcharge to 10%. It will finally be cheaper to shop locally at a store that gives cash off for gas and pay the 8.7% sales tax. The unfortunate thing about all of this is there is so much waste in our national budget, our leaders would prefer to balance the budget on the backs of the military. I think of the soldiers who have large families and truly live from paycheck to paycheck and depend on the commissary to help them stretch their money. Yes, we all have to tighten our belts, do more with less, so on and so forth, but why does it always have to come at the expense of the ones who can least afford it?

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